It has always been about hid­ing and mask­ing men­stru­ation. This is exactly why art with mes­ntrual blood hits the nerve of the time: mak­ing the invis­ible vis­ible. To finally solve the bloody mys­tery of count­less men­stru­at­ing people all over the world. Because one thing is cer­tain: blood will always keep flow­ing. And break­ing a taboo artist­ic­ally has tra­di­tion­ally been a good idea. Why? When period blood turns into art, people con­sciously engage with their own menstruation.

How are we think­ing about our own menstruation?

Whether it be in a san­it­ized white bath­room or with period art: how we think about our own men­stru­ation has a dir­ect influ­ence on how we feel when we see a pic­ture of it. Ulti­mately, men­stru­ation is the most nor­mal thing in the world. Through period art, the every­day real­ity of many people is made vis­ible – whether in abstract forms or through real images. Often the men­strual blood itself is used as the col­our for the pic­tures. Paint­ing with men­strual blood, the most nat­ural col­our on earth. Why spend money on mater­i­als when your body gives you free paint every month? It is being attemp­ted to cre­ate some­thing beau­ti­ful and spe­cial out of some­thing pain­ful or gross. To change the per­spect­ive of men­stru­ation and thus rewrite – improve the mean­ing of men­stru­ation. To accept the body more and to live in har­mony with men­stru­ation – because it is a gift. A gift to all of us, to humanity.

How did the idea for ‘When period blood turns into art’ arise?

Since I have been free bleed­ing, I have been enga­ging with my own period much more intens­ively. I con­sciously per­ceive my men­strual blood. The drained blood, includ­ing small clots, often draws beau­ti­ful and mov­ing shapes in the water of the toi­let bowl. Even when the men­strual cup is emp­tied, the trans­par­ent water changes its col­our into many dif­fer­ent shades of red and draws circles. Espe­cially when flush­ing, the red col­oured water swirls and cre­ates beau­ti­ful whirls. Since I have star­ted see­ing and per­ceiv­ing my men­strual blood this way, I have developed a com­pletely new appre­ci­ation for my own period. Have you ever really looked at your men­strual blood? A quick tip: Next time you have your period, take a close look before and while flush­ing. You will be sur­prised by how beau­ti­ful your men­strual blood can be!

The artistic aspir­a­tion for art from men­strual blood

Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder – a state­ment or at least a feel­ing as old as art itself. To cre­ate high-qual­ity and soph­ist­ic­ated aes­thetic art lies in the power of every human being. It takes prac­tice and a feel­ing for art which is developed over time. The mater­ial is of sec­ond­ary import­ance. Men­strual blood is as suit­able for cre­at­ing as acrylic paint or other typ­ical col­ours. The res­ults can undoubtedly be regarded as art. The ima­gin­a­tion of the viewer is stim­u­lated. Com­plex forms and col­ours are cre­ated, in which the human eye and the phant­asy of each indi­vidual can see the most incred­ible things. Faces, anim­als, land­scapes, under­wa­ter worlds, people – all of this can be revealed in a pic­ture cre­ated by men­strual blood.

Why am I cre­at­ing art with men­strual blood?

I want to show the world that men­strual blood is not dis­gust­ing. It’s noth­ing to hide or be ashamed of. There are other ways as well. And I want to show people that my men­stru­ation is a nat­ural part of me and my cycle. As long as men­stru­ation is still a taboo, I will remain cre­at­ive. And I am happy to take on the role of a ‘pro­voc­at­ive’ men­strual artist who pub­lishes pic­tures and art­work of men­strual blood and makes people won­der at the sight of it: This is not really real men­strual blood, is it? But it is.

And how is the men­strual blood collected?

I per­son­ally col­lect the men­strual blood for example with a men­strual cup dir­ectly inside my body. But I prefer to free bleed, where I take a small cup with me to the toi­let and col­lect the rejec­ted blood in it. Of course, this also means that some­times the blood slips faster than I can reach for the cup and it ends up dir­ectly in the toi­let. But that is ok.

What usu­ally hap­pens with men­strual blood?

Most people prefer not to really deal with their own men­strual blood at all. We are taught that it is some­thing dis­gust­ing that we should def­in­itely hide. Often the men­strual blood is col­lec­ted dir­ectly inside the body, with a tam­pon and thrown away shortly after. Pads also end up in the trash after only a few hours. Prefer­ably all of this takes place behind closed doors. And every pos­sible effort is made to hide men­stru­ation. As if it didn’t even exist. And if some­thing does go wrong and small red spots have got­ten on the bed linen or under­wear, it is hid­den with shame.

Does the men­strual blood not smell?

What sur­prised me (and Jamin, my faith­ful pho­to­grapher) most of all was that the men­strual blood – con­trary to the com­mon belief – does not smell at all. Not even after a few days! How­ever, it is inter­est­ing to men­tion that the fresh men­strual blood has dif­fer­ent shades of red depend­ing on the day of the cycle. Some­times, espe­cially at the begin­ning and at the end of the period, it tends towards brown tones. Once the men­strual blood has been painted with and is dry­ing on the paper with the air, over time even the strongest color of red changes to brown. Gradu­ally the col­ors become a little paler. It is super inter­est­ing to be able to see the changes in this way.

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Co-Founder Vul­vani | | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-founder of Vul­vani. She loves research­ing, writ­ing and design­ing new art­icles or innov­at­ive edu­ca­tional con­cepts about men­stru­ation all day long. When she is not trav­el­ling the world, she enjoys spend­ing time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.